Phil Kline I suppose every compositional decision has political overtones, down to the revolutionary decision to become a composer in the first place, which one might view as the refutation of a certain capitalist mandate. Some of my work is experienced outside even the system of music capitalism, in the street without sanction, seats, or […]
Laura Kaminsky Musical Responses to War Milan Kundera has written, and I think his words take on a heightened significance today, “Even in times of greatest distress, the individual organizes his or her life according to the laws of beauty.” I composed Vukovar Trio in 1999. It is in one movement of connected but contrasting […]
Scott Johnson What inspires music that intentionally evokes the sea, or falling in love, or a busy city street? An artistic and emotional reaction to the topic. All that’s required beyond that is that the reaction occur in the brain of a composer who’s willing to be guided by an extra-musical image. Still, politics seems […]
Daniel Felsenfeld Waiting in the Iberia terminal of New York’s JFK airport, I am more nervous than usual. The flight, much delayed, will soon spirit me away to Madrid, Spain; after a few connections I will ultimately end up in Gijon, Asturias, a small city on the north coast. There, at the jejune-but-mighty Piano España […]
Alan Rich The red carpet has been rolled up, the hors d’oeuvres eaten, and the champagne stored until the next gala event—which, this being Los Angeles, is sure to happen soon. Last week the city breathed a collective sigh of relief and opened the grand glass doors to its latest cultural amenity, the Walt Disney […]
Dean DrummondPhoto by Bob Vergara We live in terrifying times, and politics—who’s in charge, how they got there and how much power they have—can range from very scary to ridiculously silly to downright boring. I composed Congressional Record using texts from the web site of the U.S. Congress because I wanted to compose a piece […]
Our guest editor wrestles with the conflicting agendas of mass mobilization and aesthetics.
10 American composers and musicians explain what they hope audiences get from politically-motivated music. PLUS: Senator Orrin Hatch talks about his music with Phillip K. Bimstein!
No one can doubt that music has a big role to play in the world of political protest. The controversial musicians we read about in the papers, though, are mostly from the pop and folk genres. It’s not only that those musicians are more visible, though that’s certainly true as well. Classical music and jazz seem to have a more long-term, measured, even sublimated approach to political protest, slower to react and more deeply embedded in the structure of the music itself.